• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Were children cared for in early modern English Society?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Were children cared for in early modern English Society? Early modern English child rearing practices like wet-nursing, swaddling, prescriptive literature and apparent lack of parental emotional attachment has caused much discussion, regarding the care of children. Philippe Aries and Lawrence Stone used these ideas, amongst others, to suggest that parents did not care for their children. Their ideas have been challenged by a number of historians who argue that, through research of first hand accounts in diaries and official records, it is clear that children were cared for and even though these practices appear to our modern society as uncaring and cruel they were, in fact, carried out with the best of intentions. Aries in Centuries of Childhood (1962) claimed that before medieval times the idea of a state of childhood was non-existent and parents were not aware of the need to treat them any differently to adults. He studied the depiction of children in paintings of the time and concluded that children were treated the same as adults because they were portrayed the same, with the same clothing and features. Aries, along with Lawrence Stone, argued that there was, however, a change in attitudes towards children during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when adults began to realise that children were emotionally different to them and as such needed protecting. Although most people now saw that children were different to adults and as such needed to be treated differently, they believed that children needed guidance and instruction to be good. ...read more.

Middle

Many historians view swaddling as neglect and abuse and Dr Cadogan (1748) in his writing on child care instructed mothers that the wet nurses were using swaddling for their own benefit to keep the child quiet and out of the way, when: he is hung from a nail like a bundle of old clothes......the violently compressed chest not allowing the blood to circulate...the patient was believed to be tranquil because he did not have the strength to cry out.3 but it could also be argued that they were, in their view, protecting the child, keeping the child out of danger. Swaddling a child also keeps it warm, secure and reduces the heart rate, thus they tend to sleep more enabling the nurses to continue with their work. So even though it may have benefited the wet nurses it can also be seen as beneficial to the child. Houlbrooke states in The English Family (1992) that swaddling was part of the customs passed down the generations and this practice was carried out to 'maintain a womb-like environment for the newly born baby'4. It could be seen from this explanation that children were cared for because they were being kept from the harshness of the world by mimicking the protectiveness of the mother's womb According to Stone (1990), swaddling started to become less used from the end of the seventeenth century and this, he believed, was a clear indication parents were beginning to care for children more. ...read more.

Conclusion

Lady Anne Clifford refers to her daughter as 'Child' until her fifth birthday on July 2nd 1619 when she refers to 'my Lady Margaret was five years old'8. Some historians argue that this is a sign that they did not care for their children but Houlbrooke (1992) believes that being emotionally detached was the only way that parents could maintain their own emotional stability and by not referring to them with names does not give them the individuality that may be required to become attached. In today's modern society, the practices carried out by early modern parents such as wet nursing, swaddling, reading frightening prescriptive literature and remaining emotionally detached from their children would be considered, at the very least neglectful, and possibly abusive. However, we cannot judge these traditions by our own standards. Early modern English parents carried out these traditions because it was the general belief that they were doing what was best for their children. They genuinely believed that swaddling was protecting their child and wet nursing was giving them the best chance of survival. They even considered that to be emotionally distanced from their child would make it easier if the child did not survive. All of this evidence does not give clear indications that children were not cared for but that the care they received was different to our modern views because their idea of children and childhood was different to that of ours today. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Developmental Psychology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Developmental Psychology essays

  1. Free essay

    CHILD ABUSE, CHILDHOOD & HISTORY

    4 star(s)

    between children and adults and that children have there own distinct biological and psychological needs - these were expressed and experienced through 'childhood', albeit a radically different childhood from the dominant one within Western societies today. After reading much of the work Aries has put forward on childhood I would agree with Pollock (1983)

  2. Is Homework Beneficial to Children in Any way?

    (HMSO, 1995, p2) But interestingly none of these purposes make direct reference to the use of homework as a means to raise attainment. Is this because the government don't actually have any solid evidence to back up their notion and therefore have a weak argument?

  1. Foundations to Caring

    toilet- face cloth, home corner - puppet, a ball with a bell attached to the class door to help children locate their way around. When changes do take place children need time to explore those changes. Children with SEN2 require natural lighting and sometimes coloured lighting when and where appropriate.

  2. The idea for my coursework is the potential changing aspirations of teenage girls in ...

    * Inform them that they have the right to privacy and that confidentially of their data will be protected. To accomplish my aim of identifying whether or not changes in teenage girl's aspirations have occurred, I will have to also explore a variety of secondary sources.

  1. Children's Literature

    Children's Literature Journals How Big Is A Pig? - By Clare Beaton Plot: Through this book a piglet is tell the story by questioning the reader in every page "How Big Is A Pig?" The piglet tells us about other animals and how big they are, whilst questioning the audience.

  2. Teaching - Core 1 English.

    The children understood that the poem was describing a child's first day at school and one child even managed to memorise the poem and recited parts without looking at the text. This was very interesting and I realised that she had enjoyed the poem and related to the text well according to her response.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work